Shillong, Feb 20: Hyderabad defeated¬†Meghalaya by five wickets to claim the Ranji Trophy Plate Group title at the Rajiv Gandhi International Cricket Stadium in Hyderabad today, bringing to an end Meghalaya’s fantastic run.

Resuming this morning on 71/1 needing another 127 to win, Hyderabad lost four more wickets but finished the match in style with a six by Chandan Sahani.

Meghalaya’s bowlers did their level best to defend the runs available but Indian Premier League batter Tilak Varma’s 64 from 50 balls saw the home team to victory. His wicket was claimed by Raj Biswa (1/49), with Chengkam Sangma (3/47) the most successful, while Aryan Borah (1/13) managed to bag one as well.

“The MCA is proud of our Ranji team for a very successful season,” Meghalaya Cricket Association Honorary Secretary Gideon Kharkongor said. “This is the best we have done so far since 2018, the year of our affiliation with the BCCI.”

The team this season had their ups and downs – three wins in the round robin stage balanced out by two defeats and then victory in the semifinals. All this was done after the MCA leadership took the monumental decision not to utilise guest professional players for the very first time, instead preferring to rely on the homegrown talents.

By reaching the final, both Hyderabad and Meghalaya have qualified for next season’s Elite Groups in the Ranji Trophy.

“There have been outstanding individual performances that have been noticed by BCCI technical officials. Overall we have seen that our efforts have paid dividends but we need to work 200 percent more in the next season in the Elite. Our boys have understood the demand for physical fitness, mental toughness and more matches to prepare themselves,” Kharkongor added.

MCA President Nababrata Bhattacharjee had this to say: “We are proud of our Ranji team for their performance throughout the tournament, particularly the final. We may have been defeated by a narrow margin but to me our Ranji team is victorious in their commitment, sense of purpose and many of the players have performed at full potential with heads held high! I salute each one of them, including the coach and support staff. We at the MCA and the entire state of Meghalaya commend them for the performance and for holding aloft the flag flying high.”

Congratulatory messages have also come in from the President and Secretary of the Hyderabad Cricket Association and members of the North East Cricket Development Committee.

Among the individual performances of note this year has been the leadership of Kishan Lyngdoh, who also racked up 695 runs in seven matches with the first double century for a Meghalaya domiciled player in first-class cricket. He was seventh nationally in terms of runs and a little down the list is Raj Biswa, who hit two centuries in his 441 runs. Within touching distance of him was young Jaskirat Singh Sachdeva, who delivered on the faith shown in him by the selectors to amass 422 runs, which included three half-centuries.

Among the bowlers, Akash Kumar Choudhury missed the first two matches as he was recovering from injury but made up for that with 34 wickets in the following five fixtures, placing him 10th nationally but second-best (out of the Top 10) in terms of average (13.76) and third-best by strike rate (28.58). Further down was late call-up Aryan Borah, who took just one wicket against Hyderabad but bamboozled the batters in the two previous games for a total of 23 scalps, and the ever reliable Dippu Sangma, who bagged 17 wickets across the tournament.

With a fine performance by the U-23 men’s team in the Col CK Nayudu Trophy, Meghalaya has plenty of experienced and up and coming cricket talent, which, with hard work and discipline, should mean that they give the bigger teams in the Elite Groups a real challenge next season. Something that all cricket fans in the state will be eagerly looking forwards to.

(Meghalaya Cricket Association photo)

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